Any Classicist knows those unparalleled little green books – the size of a paperback but with a sturdy hard cover and an understated title on the front cover – even less conspicuous on the spine. The Loeb Library classics of Ancient Greek and Latin (the Latin books have red covers).
The series, developed by philanthropist James Loeb and published by Harvard University Press, outraged purists at the time because of its printing the original text on one page with an English translation next to it, making it easy for the reader. The purists scoffed at making things easy for those who needed “crib notes” to read Ancient Greek and Latin.
What would those purists think now that, as the Wall Street Journal reports, Harvard has digitized the collection. Now the crib notes are even easier – as the click of a mouse allows easily accessible translations.
Essentially, this digitized format is to the Classics what the calculator was to doing long division by hand.
Progress has trumped purism. Plato and Socrates, Seneca and Virgil, welcome to the world wide web!